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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

80
THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM
CH. IV
Lord Cromer set before Egyptians and Englishmen alike during a full quarter of a century. He cannot in fairness be held responsible for the essential artificiality of a system of control which had to be adapted to abnormal conditions without a parallel in history. But it can be truthfully asserted that to the sincerity of his commanding personality, and to the respect, perhaps not always unmixed with fear, which it universally inspired, was above all else due the large measure of acceptance, and even of confidence and gratitude amongst the masses of the Egyptian people, which British control secured, in spite of the many imperfections of the system, during the first period of the Occupation.ased to exist ? Is it not a fact that every individual in the country, from the highest to the lowest, is now equal in the eyes of the law ; that thrift has been encouraged, and that the most humble member of society can reap the fruits of his own labour and industry; that justice is no longer bought and sold ; that everyone is free, perhaps some would think too free, to express his opinions ; that King Baksheesh has been dethroned from high places and now only lingers in the purlieus and byways of the administration ; that the fertilising water of the Nile is distributed impartially to prince and peasant alike ; that the sick man can be tended in a well-equipped hospital; that the criminal and the lunatic are no longer treated as wild beasts ; that even the lot of the brute creation has not escaped the eyes of the reformer ; that the solidarity of interests between the governors and the governed has been recognised in theory and in practice ; that every act of the Administration even if at times mistaken —for no one is infallible—bears the mark of honesty of purpose and an earnest desire to secure the well-being of the population ; and further, that the funds, very much reduced in amount, which are now taken from the pockets of the taxpayers, instead of being, for the most part, spent on useless palaces and other objects in which they were in no degree interested, are devoted to purposes which are of real benefit to the country ? If all these, and many other points to which I could allude, do not constitute some moral advancement, then, of a truth, I do not know what the word morality implies."